WADA chief says UCI must 'take blinkers off'
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) — Cycling's world body will not regain credibility until officials who presided over the drug-tainted Lance Armstrong era are removed from the sport, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency said yesterday.
WADA President John Fahey told Australia's Fox Sports that the UCI, which on Monday stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles, has to "take the blinkers off" and examine its own past.
"Looking back, clearly the doping was widespread," he said. "If that doping was widespread then the question is legitimately put: Who was stopping it? Who was working against it? Why wasn't it stopped? I think it is relevant to ask those questions."
Fahey said he looks forward to seeing what the UCI proposes to do to ensure the Armstrong "debacle" doesn't happen again.
"It's not a question of simply saying we'll rule off the line and go on," he said.
The UCI "clearly have to take the blinkers off, look at the past, examine the people who are there, ask themselves the questions 'are those same people still in the sport and can they proceed forward with those people remaining?'
"I don't think there's any credibility if they don't do that and I think they need to get confidence back into the sport so that its millions of supporters around the world will watch and support the sport going forward. Right now if you were a cycling fan you'd say to yourself 'Why bother?'"
Fahey said "everyone" doped during the Armstrong era and the UCI had to address how such widespread doping went undetected.
"The evidence that was given (to the United States Anti-Doping Agency) by those riders who are teammates of Lance Armstrong, one after the other they said the same thing — that you could not compete unless you were doping."
Mike Turtur, the UCI Oceania delegate and director of the Tour Down Under, told Australian Associated Press there was no point in digging up the past.
"It's an opportunity now for the sport to really start with a clean slate and then draw a line in the sand and say 'from this point on we're going to do all these things that will be in place to try to detect cheats in the sport and make it a better environment for everyone'," he said.
Ray Godkin, an Australian former UCI vice-president who still holds the position in an honorary capacity, said in Fairfax newspapers Wednesday that, based on the strength of suspicion he had about Armstrong in the years of the American's dominance in the Tour from 1999 to 2005, greater efforts could have been made by the UCI, USADA, US Cycling, and WADA.
Godkin quit as UCI vice-president in late 2008 after 22 years in the position. He said cycling's doping controls had been far better in recent years, especially with the introduction of the biological blood passport system in his last year of office.
But when asked if he felt there was still a point where Armstrong's doping programme on the US Postal Service team could have been stopped earlier than it was, Godkin said: "US Cycling, they could have been more vigorous because they had been talking about it for a long time — USADA, but also WADA. They are all involved, including the UCI, if you like.
"We are all clever in hindsight," he added. "When you sit down today and think of more things we could have done, and we would have nabbed him but we didn't."